20 December 2012

Ghana: Need for Reforming the Electoral System


The 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections are threatening to undermine the democratic credentials of this country, than a means of choosing our leaders. According to the Electoral Commission, transitional President John Dramani Mahama won the vote with 50.7 percent, beating his closest rival, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who was credited with 47.9 percent of the popular vote.

That assertion has been challenged by the New Patriotic Party, which claims to have evidence that the verdict announced by Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan was stolen.

While we wait on the largest opposition party in the country to head for the Supreme Court to challenge the verdict, other minor political parties have also cried foul. The Progressive People's Party of Papa Kwesi Nduom claims that some of its votes were stolen, particularly in the Central Region.

The Convention People's Party made a bit of noise and recoiled into its shell. The Chronicle has learnt that the Chairman of the Cockerel Family, Samia Yaaba Nkrumah, who is the daughter of the first President of the Republic of Ghana, is likely to join the Cabinet of President-elect, John Dramani Mahama.

We hope this speculation has not affected the CPP's ability to express the concern from the party's rank and file.

Whether the Supreme Court would eventually okay the flawed election for Ms. Nkrumah to join the Cabinet, is a matter for conjecture. What should be of interest to students of contemporary Ghanaian politics is the cry by the National Democratic Party that several of its parliamentary candidates were robbed at the polls.

In one example given in the Ashanti Region, a candidate who polled 800, later found to his chagrin that his figure had become 419 on the score-sheet of the Electoral Commission.

Apart from the obvious rigging at the coalition centres, vote-buying, clearly undermined the quality of the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

"Ghana's democracy is gradually becoming one of monetary influence and the massive swindling of the conscience of the masses," complained National Democratic Party Chairman Josiah Aryee, in Accra,

In effect, some governments are impoverishing the people, so that during elections the people are given some pittance for their votes, and this has a negative influence on the direction of our democratic growth.

The Chronicle is worried stiff about the declining quality of the vote in this country. In the Ekumfi Constituency, for instance, tongues are wagging about how useful the winner -Abeeku Crenstil - would be to the House.

The general consensus is that Abeeku has no classmate of any worth. He contested for the vote against Ato Cudjoe, a young man in his late 30s, who is an Accountant with a Masters of Business Administration degree.

The conventional wisdom in the constituency is that Ato Cudjoe was the front-runner until the National Democratic Congress hit back with cloths, money and other largesse for votes.

Our vote is threatening to become a farce. From the supply of computers to a free reign by students with Hyundai i10s, the election is being sold to the highest bidder. A worrying trend is also emerging that electoral officers compromised their positions in a gargantuan fraud to ensure that the NDC remained at Government House.

Initially, it was thought the NPP, being bad losers, were discrediting the vote to suit the selfish interest of the party and its front-runner. The concerns raised by the NDP at the party's post-election press conference yesterday, adds to the growing number of calls for an investigation into the 2012 Presidential and Legislative elections.

At this stage of the debate, we all await the promise by the opposition NPP to challenge the election results. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo might not have been declared the winner of the vote. But he has a unique opportunity to provide the nation with the evidence needed to reform our electoral system.

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